Contemporary Native Voices
Tacoma Art Museum’s Haub Family Collection of Western American Art includes many artworks depicting Native American cultures. Most of these images were created by non-Native artists, and while some are sensitive portrayals, others reflect artists’ preconceptions, Euro-centric viewpoints, and the biases of their own time. Tacoma Art Museum reached out to Native individuals locally and nationally to gather input and deconstruct these representations. The participants interviewed vary widely in age, profession, tribal affiliation, and opinion, and represent only a small cross section of Native American voices.
This project was developed by Asia Tail as part of her Haub Fellowship.
“Native people are still here and are working in all kinds of contemporary media.”
Blackfeet, Seattle City Councilmember
“Native American culture is like language: it is fluid, it changes, it is nuanced.”
“Let Native people speak to their own individual experience in their own words.”
Cherokee, Blogger and postdoctoral fellow at Brown University
“When we are looking at the ways these non-Native artists are portraying Native peoples, it is a reflection of the ways that Native peoples are situated in society.”
“To have this collection here is really valid and can help educate Natives and non-Natives too on works that have some controversial imagery.”
Taos Pueblo, Taos Pueblo Tourism Director
“The people in those particular paintings had/have families and those families continue to thrive and still continue to take part in our way of life.”
“We can finally be heard and we have a collective voice. There are more Native people speaking out.”
Chiricahua Apache, Artist
“Native American cultures are extremely varied and extremely diverse and I believe that is our strength.”
Cowlitz, Chairman of the Cowlitz Tribe
“Going through the galleries, there are a lot of Native people in the artworks that could be my ancestors.”
“Each Native artist leaves their solid imprint on the exhibition with very impactful images.”
“Now we are really taking back everything that was pushed on us and we are going to make what we need ours. I like to use the word reclaiming.”
Lend Your Voice
We want to hear from you! If you would like to share your voice with Tacoma Art Museum, email comments, requests, or a specific response to Faith Brower, Haub Curator of Western American Art at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, contact information, background, and tribal affiliation (if applicable).
More Native Voices at TAM
Bus Funding for Native Students – Info and Online Application